Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Decisions. Liverpool Vs London

I am a terrible decision maker. I know that. Generally most of my decisions are made without much thought, a split-second decision. The last major decision I can remember making was when I decided to stay in Liverpool after my job at Clatterbridge finished. That was a really hard choice. I definitely felt a strong push from God to stay in Liverpool and put some roots down. Every instinct in my body was telling me ‘no, keep going keep moving don’t stop don’t settle or let people in’. But I decided to stay and things have worked out in their own little way. Friends that I have made in the past 6 months have told me I’ve changed. I’m not sure how exactly but they seemed to indicate that it was a good thing.

Now I need to make another decision except this time I am actually trying to put some thought and effort into it and am just going round and round and round in circles. My mind changes almost every 5-10 minutes. Sometimes this is influenced by who I am speaking to, but the advice I have received comes from people of a range of backgrounds, different ages and have known me for various lengths of time, some Christian some not. There isn’t any particular pattern in terms of what other people say or recommend that I should do.

I know it is important to seek wise council, and that what other people say can be an important part of guidance and directing. Ultimately the choice is down to me, but after many many weeks of debate and prayer and tears at times and frustration I am no nearer a decision about whether it is better for me to stay in Liverpool or whether I should go to London for uni. I know there is no such thing as a right choice because either way things will work out somehow. Different opportunities will come up either way which will naturally take you down different paths.

This is the first time where I am actually considering staying in one place and not moving on, and that being one of my preferred choices. Previously I would be fighting to settle, seeing it as a weakness in myself. I think that is one thing that has changed in me in the past 6 months or so, letting people in. I think I’ve prided myself on my ability to just keep moving and not get attached in any way, and pride is never a good thing. There is a huge part of me that wants to remain living in Liverpool, at least for the time being. How long, I don’t know. But for a longer period of time than the 6 weeks remaining until University would be due to start.

It’s quite frustrating actually because I feel quite peaceful about either of my options. Naturally I have doubts or concerns and you wonder how you can actually manage to survive. Neither option is perfect or without its flaws. For example, if I go to London my first semester will be 5 full on days a week, some days 9am-9pm at night. Intense. Which would make it quite difficult to find the time to work outside of studying, so obviously financial strain would play a bit of a part of that. Not to mention having to pay for the degree in advance and then general living expenses for rent, food, transport across one of the most expensive cities in the world. I’m not worried about money because I know God will provide in whatever situation I land myself in, but I don’t want to be blasé about it either.

But then in saying that, if I was to stay in Liverpool I don’t particularly have any financial security here either. My current position finishes at the beginning of September. There is a high likelihood that either this one or the hospital I was working at before will ask me to do additional work, but no guarantees.

London wise, I wonder whether this degree is really what I want to do? How motivated am I? Can I really honestly concentrate properly to study right now? Do I even want to do this degree? Is this really a career that I want to get into? I don’t have answers to these questions. Even my motives for wanting to get into international nutrition itself I question. I wonder whether it is actually something I want to do, or is it more the concept that I like, the idea of a glamourous adrenaline filled life. Maybe I have changed more than I realised. I still want to travel like I used to, but the desire is no way near as strong as it used to be. It could be a maturing process, just realising how much friendships and relationships are important to being human. I’m not sure where my passions lie anymore.

These past 6 months in Liverpool is probably the most that I have ever settled down, and in saying that I haven’t really settled yet, or am only just beginning to now. For years I have been living out of suitcases, my car(s), backpacks and never really been in a place that felt even remotely like home. I love the mountains back ‘home’ in Sydney but that didn’t mean I necessarily felt ‘home’ there. I think it was more a place of familiarity and comfort. You know everyone, they all know you but does that necessarily make a place home? I don’t know. I’ve confused people before talking about home because I’ve generally just referred to who’s ever house I was staying at that night, or if at someone’s house for a meal or something referring to their home as my own. Over familiarisation perhaps? I have had millions of ‘homes’. Well maybe that’s an exaggeration, but quite a few.

In asking advice from people I’ve had a few bible verses be sent through to help. This one in Jeremiah has always been one of my favourites. In the midst of a life that has had no direction and no idea where its going or why, it’s good to know that God is in control and has a plan somewhere even if I don’t.

I have it all planned out – plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. Jeremiah 29:11

Yesterday at church there was a brilliant message by one of the young men in the church. A couple of points really stood out to me. “Only dead fish go with the flow”

I guess with everything I have done in life it has almost always been just see what happens take it as it comes, very much go with the flow. I don’t want to be a dead fish, I want to be living with purpose and direction. The problem is I just don’t really know what direction I should be facing. I’m at a fork in the road with each path looking identical. Yesterday I was given the advice that I shouldn’t really think about making this decision so much, just make a decision. I guess it’s a bit more complicated than that though.

Anyway. Just thought I’d clear out some of the doubts and thoughts circling round and round and round and round in my head. Thanks for listening to my rant.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

craziness on the streets

 I've had a couple of friends around the world ask how I'm doing, so thought I'd put a quick note up here to let you all know I'm doing fine. I've witnessed and observed some of the rioting last night from the safety of my window, but not personally been impacted in any way. I was woken up at about 1am last night by dogs barking, helicopters flying around and kids running up and down the street. I thought I had heard gunshots as well but apparently it was fireworks and bins being blown up. I actually live in a quiet area of town, but its stuck between the centre of the city and the main road leading out to Toxteth where most of these kids seem to come from so thats why our normally quiet street was a bit noisier than normal.

This morning when I was walking to the station to commute over to Manchester there were some remaining signs of the riots last night, a car across from our flat had all its' windows were smashed in, a motorbike had been pushed over, there were random bricks in places. Other than that by 6am it was quite peaceful on the streets! When I left work in Manchester at 4.30 there were rumours going on that the looters were going to hit Deansgate at 4pm but there wasn't

Its quite ridiculous, kids running around in the middle of the night uncontrolled looting, stealing smashing cars buildings, blowing up bins all because they can, doing what they want, taking what they want, to show the rich that's what they deserve and obtain the things that they want. Ridiculous, criminalistic and greedy. Some comments the looters have made include: "showing the police that we can do what we want" "we're just showing the rich people we can do what we want" "its our way of showing we're fed up of being searched and pulled over all the time.. we're broke, its not an excuse but its our way to get a bit of money". 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Life lessons about love

Now that I am well and truly into my second year of living in the UK, I thought it was appropriate to look back and reflect a bit on where this journey has taken me, how it has changed me and influenced and shaped my life and character.  It’s been a year of highs lows, challenges, excitement, exploration and discovery. I personally have had moments of extreme joy and intense pain, had confidence highs and lows and I think it is helping to shape me into a better person. I’ve loved, lost and learning to love and trust again, better and stronger.

I love working as a clinical dietitian in the hospital. It is challenging in many ways if I was to take everything to heart could be very emotionally and physically draining, it's not for everyone, I understand. There are scenes and situations that I have observed at times that aren’t for the faint hearted, can weigh you down at times and display both the good and bad in humanity. The vast majority of my patients are much older than me, and in most cases have a lot more wisdom to share than I have at this stage in my life. I try to learn from what I hear and see.

The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death. Proverbs 13:14

He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm. Proverbs 13:20

For example, in regards to relationships I learn from their words and also by at times observation (not intentionally) of how they relate to others in different stages of life in sickness and in health, particularly when you are old and sick and not at your best. I think we have a tendency to want and expect perfection in life, which is completely unattainable. TV, Hollywood, the media are always going on about relationship breakdown, which couple has divorced or split after so many years together (often not very many) and put out this negative image that staying together with one person is impossible. I beg to differ. I don’t have rose-tinted glasses on here or anything, but I know that through hard work, perseverance, commitment a stable loving and ongoing relationship is completely possible between two individuals. I’ve witnessed this with friends, family and also from strangers. A couple of hospital scenes have particularly touched my heart this week .

One lady I have been seeing for a nasogastric feed because she has been refusing food for weeks with ongoing low blood sugar levels and borderline dementia. I think she is in her late 80s. She has been pulling the feeding tubes out and is just not a happy lady. I was in the room one day when her husband had come in and she was saying how she just wanted to go and die and that she was miserable. Her husband then became all upset (understandably) and began to cry saying ‘what about me? You can’t leave me’.  My heart goes out to these people because you see it all the time, a couple who have lived together their entire lives, adore one another and have done everything and grown old together and without each other they don't know what to do.

Another lady I have been seeing (mentally and cognitively functioning normally) recently had to have her leg amputated below the knee due to chronic leg ulcers after a knee replacement failed to heal. Her husband died six months ago and she has no other family or children because as she put it they married 'late in years'. Most of my patients are very malnourished. One lady I am seeing weighs 26kg and she is so anxious and confused, she doesn't know what to do. They need and crave love and attention and human touch in their lives.

I was on the stroke unit in one of the mens’ rooms (4 beds to a room) and I saw a lovely American lady who had come in saying goodbye to her husband and the other men in the room. Strokes affect different people differently but often they impact speech and movement with varying rates of recovery. At this point, all of these men are unable to speak clearly and have slurred speech, some of them have muscle weakness and can only use one side of their body. It is easy for people in hospital to be forgotten by friends and family, and to be ignored and spend an entire day without having a conversation or being acknowledge as a person by those around them. This lady, I saw her chatting with everyone personally by name saying goodbye as she left, joking with the men that they had to keep an eye on her husband, that she could feel mischief brewing in the room and that they were to keep out of trouble. I wasn’t eavesdropping , it is virtually impossible to have any privacy in a hospital setting and you just hear and see things. She told her husband that she loved him and kissed him goodbye, then he cried after she had gone. It was refreshing seeing a lady to engage with everyone in the room and seeing real love and affection.

These scenes have demonstrated to me that love is attainable, it can be maintained and last when two people adore each other and are ready to put the effort and time in. Something to work towards and believe in. Wherever I am I try to share some love and care and attention to the people that I meet, to let them know and feel how important they are, their worth. I don't always get it right, but that's what I'm working towards.